U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks during an event outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. to call for a Gaza cease-fire in on November 13, 2023.

(Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'Jews for Jamaal' and Squad Push Back Against AIPAC Attack on Bowman

"It's our duty to fight back," said Rep. Summer Lee, arguing that no super PAC "should be able to drop millions to usurp the conversation for their agenda."

As the leading U.S. pro-Israel lobby's political action committee unleashes a nearly $2 million ad blitz targeting Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Jewish allies of the New York Democrat—who is an outspoken critic of what he and many experts call Israel's genocide in Gaza—on Thursday joined progressive lawmakers in condemning right-wing efforts to defeat pro-Palestine incumbents.

United Democracy Project (UDP), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) super PAC, has booked $1.9 million in television ads to influence the outcome of the Democratic primary in New York's 16th Congressional District, according to Wednesday reporting by Sludge's David Moore.

"This new ad spending in New York shows once and for all that my opponent, George Latimer, is bankrolled by a right-wing super PAC that has received over $40 million from Republican megadonors who want to defend Republican insurrectionists, overturn voting rights, and ban abortion nationwide," Bowman said in a statement.

"Democrats across New York deserve better, and will reject these attempts to buy our elections and undermine our democracy," he added.

Jews for Jamaal, a pro-Bowman coalition spearheaded by the group Jews for Racial & Economic Justice Action, said in a statement that "we recognize this media blitz for what it is: a desperate move by powerful interests to silence the district's first Black representative in history."

"UDP is overwhelmingly spending its millions in Democratic primaries, mostly against Black and brown Democratic incumbents who speak out against war and for the human rights of Palestinians," the coalition continued. "This massive amount of spending distorts the political landscape, drowning out the needs and voices of everyday constituents with the interests of a few wealthy donors."

"It undermines the very foundation of our democracy, which must be built on the principles of transparency, accountability, and genuine representation," Jews for Jamaal added.

As more and more Democrats speak out against Israel's assault on Gaza—which according to Palestinian health officials has killed, maimed, or left missing more than 125,000 people—and violent repression by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, AIPAC has lashed out at even the mildest criticism of Israeli government policies and practices, which many experts around the world call genocidal.

Last November, Slate's Alex Sammon reported that UDP was set to spend approximately $100 million in a bid to unseat both pro-Palestine congressional progressives and more moderate Democratic candidates who the powerful lobby group believes don't sufficiently support Israel. Sammon said that Bowman, along with fellow "Squad" members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Summer Lee (D-Pa.) are among UDP's top targets.

Some of those lawmakers also rallied to Bowman's defense on Thursday.

"It's our duty to fight back," Lee said on social media. "As somebody who knows these folks intimately, I can speak to the damage UDP causes not just to the candidates they target and smear, but to the communities attached to us and democracy itself."

The congresswoman—who won her primary last month—continued:

Their campaign against me in 2022 was steeped in dog whistles and disinformation. Their most shameful million-dollar attack against me was just unsubtly implying I was a [former U.S. President Donald] Trump supporter... in mailers where my skin was oddly shadowed or darker. For three weeks, they plastered the airwaves and mailboxes in wall-to-wall attacks that overwhelmed our midsized media market. Cable and broadcast, digital and streaming... even children's programming on YouTube was targeted.

Omar asserted on social media that "a people-powered movement will always be stronger than special interest groups."

"We got your back, Jamaal Bowman," she added.

Bush said that Latimer "is being used as a Trojan Horse for far-right billionaires and anti-abortion extremists."

"But from the Bronx to St. Louis, we won't let them win," she vowed.

Bowman, in turn, posted in support of Bush, whom he pledged to defend against "Republican billionaires... coming for her."

Last month, another coalition—the youth-led Protect Our Power campaign—was launched in support of progressive congressional incumbents under attack by AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups.

"The only thing that beats organized money is organized people," the young organizers said at the time. "Fortunately, that's what we know how to do best."

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